What is Educational Therapy?

Becoming an educational therapist has been an evolution for me. Sometimes folks are confused about what it is, so here’s a quick review.

Educational therapy teaches a child strategies and techniques to improve her learning. Educational therapists assess academic needs (which may also include needs at home and even social needs) and create a goal-focused PLAN OF ACTION to help that student find success.

Educational therapists specialize in reading, mathematics, specific learning disabilities like ADHD or dyslexia, executive function, and more. Ed therapists use informed data from assessments to build an actionable learning plan.

A common follow-up question: So, it’s like tutoring?

NO, educational therapy is not tutoring. Tutoring breaks down academic content and re-teaches it so a student has more depth, exposure, and better understanding. Tutoring covers SUBJECT AREA CONTENT and will look the same based on a student’s particular level.

Educational therapy is dynamic and individualized, and the content is skills-based. Ed therapists discover and teach a child HOW SHE LEARNS BEST as well as how to improve her learning. Anything from self-advocacy, science-based and multisensory reading strategies, time blocking, stress tolerance, and sustained attention, to pencil grips that make writing less taxing, may all be built into educational therapy plans.

Another question I get often: “Is this like therapy?” The short answer is no. Therapy concerns mental health and while many students do improve their confidence level after working with an ed therapist, we more often work WITH a student’s mental health provider to communicate about what is going well in therapy and what skills need more support. As an ed therapist, I can accept HSA funds, but that’s where the similarities end.

Many also wonder what certifications educational therapists have. The answer is they are varied. Most of us have a degree in education or special education, as well as a master’s degree. Some have Ph. D.s, Ed. Ds and/or post-graduate certificates in Educational Therapy.

Here are two universities with graduate certificate programs if you’re interested in what we’re required to know by AET (The Association of Educational Therapists–our professional organization):

University of California at Santa Barbara


If you’d like to learn more about education therapy, Understood.org also has a great article on it.

And finally, the Learn Smarter Podcast is a SUPERB RESOURCE for information about how educational therapy can support your diverse learner. I’m working with the creators (also owners of their own therapy practices), Rachel and Stephanie, next month and I’m stoked about it!

As always, I’m here for you! Click below to book a discovery session:

Published by Family ADDventures

Nicole Santiago is a learning specialist, student advocate, and founder of Family ADDventures. As a specialist, she assesses and teaches clients (adults and adolescents) to manage and grow their executive functioning skills which include emotional regulation, task initiation, and time management. As an advocate (IEP coach), she is a member of COPAA and ensures inclusive (special) education students receive the most appropriate educational services possible. She often collaborates with OT's, SLP's and neuropsychologists all in the name of student improvement and success. Her practice is located in San Antonio, TX, and everywhere (virtually). The author grew up an army brat and spends time with her three ND children and husband in Puerto Rico whenever possible. She writes about mental health, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship on her blog: FamilyADDventures.com

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